I am a self-confessed cat lady. The crazy part: It is a matter of opinion. I have had several cats in my life, Plato, Maxwell, Harley and Wellington, and I ever so adore these little felines!
Here is Wellington the Gray:
A Shocking Swiss Practice?
But when I first came to Switzerland, I was shocked to learn that the Swiss have been known to eat the domesticated and loved Felix and Fluffy. "No!", I gasped, imaging my sweet grey cat served as a grotesque Swiss version of Beef Wellington with carrots and peas on the side.
Now, I understand there are countries where food scarcity demands that cats and dogs are consumed as a matter of survival. And there are also those that eat them as an integral part of their culture (such as guinea pigs in South America). But Switzerland?!
As a non-Swiss vegetarian, I may have unwittingly skimmed past regional delicacies like "Katzengeschnetzeltes mit Spätzli"... However, a survey amongst my Swiss friends has shown that the disapproval of cat eating is high. This was a big relief to me and my "don't eat your pets" upbringing in Canada and New Zealand.
Calming my sensibilities further, I have witnessed (and assisted) my elderly Swiss neighbor feed the neighborhood cats and rescue those in distress over the past few years. With a Swiss feline heroine living in my building, I concluded that the practice of eating cats was surely a legend of the urban kind.
Felines Gone Missing
That was until the day she told me that cats in the neighborhood were going missing - and quite possibly were being eaten!
To legitimate the story, the neighbor told me that she was taking the distressed cat she had just found in the clearing beside our apartment to an animal shelter further from our home just to increase its chances of preservation. I know this might sound like she is a few cats short of a litter, but I can firmly attest that she is a model citizen of high mental competence.
Upon further investigation, I found that attempts to ban the practice of eating cats (and dogs) have failed in Switzerland with authorities leaving the non-cruel killing and consumption of our domestic friends up to personal taste.
In the Alps, as in many places in the world, meat is meat whether it comes from cow, pig, rabbit or chicken. However, I am pleased that the practice has high social disapproval and you will not find domesticated pets on the supermarket shelf!
I am further encouraged by the elaborate catwalks that lead to the dizzy heights of apartment windows. This is more evidence that the Swiss are as smitten with their kittens as I am!